Five Foot Fish

Subject: Family Legend


Informant: Talitha Barkow


The following dialogue is a story told to me by Talitha about her family and their fishing adventures on an Indiana lake. Talitha said she wasn’t sure if the whole thing was made up, exaggerated, or completely true, but all her family members know the story and bring it up every now and then.


“My dad’s parents lived on a lake in Indiana and took their grandkids fishing all the time. There was one time where they all were out fishing, and they were fishing for pike, which can get pretty big, and bass, which weren’t that big, and my grandfather cast out his line and caught something, but they thought it was the bottom of the lake.


The line started zigzagging back and forth. The fish started pulling the boat across the water. My dad had the net ready when they finally were able to pull it up. They started to struggle, and the fish ripped through the net.


My great grandpa still had it in his hands, so they get it in the boat, and it’s five feet long. They’re scared it’ll get out of the boat, so my grandpa laid down on top of it, but it was pretty difficult to keep it under control because fish are all muscle,

and it bit him.


So, they got this giant fish. They had to go into the city to do something, and when they pulled up to the lake shore, this woman’s standing there, and is like, ‘that’s a big fish,’ and they didn’t have anywhere to put it so they asked her to put it in her freezer and she said yes. It’s really weird, but everyone in Indiana has, like, a giant freezer for some reason. And they came back, but she wasn’t in the house, but the door was unlocked, and they went in the house and got it and walked out. Now the fish is in my grandfather’s basement, and it used to terrify me when I was younger.”


The story is used now for entertainment, but it does mean something to Talitha’s family, as her grandfather kept the fish and mounted it on a wall in his home to remember the fishing trip with his children. The story has also become somewhat of a legend, as on the one hand, it definitely happened because there is physical proof of the massive fish they caught. But on the other hand, Talitha had no idea whether the details of the story were actually factual or just made up to enhance the drama of it all, like her grandfather laying on top of the fish and then the fish turning around and biting him.